|Subject: Action Alert: WA State Office of the Education Ombudsman (OEO ) facing severe budget cuts|
|From: Gabi Clayton ~ Safe Schools Coalition <email@example.com>|
|Date: 3/2/2012 9:36 PM|
Dear Senator / Representative ____,
The Safe Schools Coalition is aware that cuts to the budget of The Washington State Office of the Education Ombudsman have been proposed by the House and Senate. We understand that the House budget proposes a cut of 5% or $28,000, and the Senate budget proposes a much larger cut of $320,000.
Because of our work doing intervention when Washington state students, parents, school staff and others ask us for assistance when they are involved in or witness bullying in our schools, we are all too aware of the consequences when bullying, harassment and intimidation situations are not handled well and impact a young person’s ability to learn. Responses of these students based on fear include, but are not limited to; missing classes or entire school days, dropping out, being more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol and making a serious suicide attempt as a way to escape the very real lack of safety they experience when bullying is not addressed.
The staff of OEO is made up of education professionals whose role it is to bring an impartial perspective - focusing on the best interest and academic needs of the student involved, advocating for fairness, helping families and schools examine their roles and responsibilities, ensuring that laws and policies are followed, doing mediation and conflict resolution when appropriate, and working to prevent similar problems in the future.
This office is the only government agency with the time, focus and expertise to help families deal with bullying issues in schools, and by doing this they are able to prevent situations from escalating into costly and time consuming lawsuits. With previous cuts, they have lost the ability to do most interventions in person, but now have to do so via emails, phone calls and written letters.
We are opposed to these cuts because of the vital role that the OEO has in helping families with students who are dealing with bullying, harassment and intimidation in our schools.
Please maintain the Office of the Education Ombudsman funding at current levels, without the cut as proposed in the budgets. The role the OEO plays in our state is critical to the safety and well-being of our youth, the families we serve, and our communities.
Michelle Munro Gabi Clayton
Co-Chair Intervention Advisor
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